On you path to nutrient-richdom, have you sometimes found yourself “not in the mood” for the Big Salad, cornerstone of high-nutrient eating? If so, you aren’t alone.
“I’m sick of salads!” Sherry moaned. “Sometimes I think I should mix it up a bit with a sandwich or veggie calzone.”
My client was in the early stages of nutrient-rich eating, and I suspected she was still eating in response to toxic hunger instead of waiting a little while longer for true hunger to kick in. It was time for a gentle reminder of these topics.
Not in the mood for salad? Not hungry!
My clients are rarely satisfied with my proclamation that, if the salad doesn’t sound good, you’re not really hungry. They, and you, must experience it for yourself in order to believe it. But perhaps you have already experienced true hunger. Have you ever fasted for a medical procedure, lent, or health? A few years ago, I attempted a short fast, and not more than 24 hours into this self-imposed deprivation, true-hunger-like-I’d-never-known-before kicked in. I recall feasting my eyes upon the perfect cantaloupe with overwhelming mouth-watering desire.
These days, I routinely sachet into our weekly farmers’ market, excitedly plucking cauliflowers, bell peppers and heads of romaine from the venders. I love my food! Nothing tastes better than a colossal green salad with everything (cabbage, radishes, carrots, etc.) on it—that is, when I’m truly hungry.
If it’s lunch time, and the thought of a salad doesn’t send your taste buds into wet ecstasy, you are not experiencing true hunger. Do something else until the salad sounds delish—and I promise it will, sooner or later. True hunger is the secret to enjoying a high-nutrient diet style.
True hunger is characterized by a mouth and throat sensation and heightened taste sensitivity. That means food tastes way yummy, and your mouth might begin to water at the mere sight of a red head of radicchio. I confess that I have not really experienced any mouth/throat feelings; I experience true hunger through increased taste pleasure. When I’m really hungry, simple, fairly unstimulating fruits and veggies sound wonderful. If they don’t sound good, if my taste buds require more stimulation (from sugary, salty, and oily foods), then it’s time to redirect my attention until true hunger kicks in.
Hunger or Withdrawl?
Toxic hunger includes those physical sensations most frequently associated with the word hunger—stomach cramping, light-headedness, irritability, fatigue, headache. In reality, though, these are not symptoms of hunger, but withdrawal! Toxic hunger requires high-calorie sugary, salty, oily foods to be satisfied.
Allow me to elucidate with an illustration. Have you ever tried to quit smoking? At some point in your effort, you must’ve experienced some irritability, tingling, headache, and you understood those to be withdrawal symptoms; most likely, you didn’t interpret those uncomfortable sensations as indicators that you should resume smoking. But if, in a weak moment, you did light up, you probably felt much better, huh?
Have you ever attempted to stop coffee or caffeinated beverages? You probably felt headachy and tired, at least initially. If you stuck it out, though, your body normalized over time, probably within a few days or weeks, and your energy level returned to usual as the daily headaches subsided.
Processed, high-calorie fare is like cigarettes and coffee—they disappear withdrawal symptoms, making you feel better in the moment. But the long-term effect is continued addiction to those foods.
“Sherry, I want you try this: for the next three days, wait an hour from the onset of your typical hunger sensations (toxic hunger), and then eat your salad. I think you’ll find that experiencing true hunger will make your salad much more appealing. Plus, after a few weeks your taste buds will adjust to this new daily salad reality, and going a day without your salad will be unthinkable!”